SOCHI, Russia - After going through a security checkpoint and stepping out of the entrance building in Olympic Park, visitors are immersed in a spectacle of sights and sounds.
Volunteer workers, who are shouting welcome and other chants in Russian through megaphones, immediately greet visitors.
To the right, a massive grandstand meant for the upcoming 2014 Russian Grand Prix in Sochi towers over the building. About 20 yards past the entrance-building, the aroma of Coca-Cola-sponsored food vendors and imported palm trees envelope visitors.
As visitors continue to move deeper into the park, they run into a series of event buildings. Situated between the Sprint Mobile building made of cargo ship containers and a building with Russian lettering incomprehensible to anyone not familiar with the alphabet system is Volkswagen Group’s booth. The building stands four stories tall, is mainly made of meticulously cleaned windows and is garnished with Volkswagen, Audi and Skoda badges.
The line to get into the booth one recent day was packed with nearly 100 visitors eager to see what awaited them inside. A screen situated behind the front glass windows keeps visitors entertained during their wait. The screen, playing constantly, shows the medal count of every country, athletes and the medals they won, as well as the country each athlete represents. Music is blasting through four massive speakers anchored along the top covering on the front of the building, and it’s not just any music either. The types of songs emanating from the speakers have enough intensity to rival that of Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries.”
As spectators enter the glass building, they walk on top of a white floor that is as polished as a mirror. They are then greeted by Audi and Skoda receptionists who hand out company magazines, Russian Federation flags, and green and white blowup things that are presumably meant to bop unruly children on the tops of their heads.
After getting a load of free things, visitors then get to see the cars Volkswagen group brought to the event.
First is the Skoda Rapid Sport Concept. Though there are no details on the power plant, the two-tone Corrida Red and Steel Grey four-door sedan screams performance. Under its flared fender arches are 19-inch alloy wheels covering substantial cross-drill rotors. The exterior is garnished with a carbon front-splitter, side-skirts, wing and rear diffuser. The interior has Recaro seats, a flat-bottomed perforated leather steering wheel and minimal electronic gizmos.
Second is the Volkswagen Amarok Canyon edition. This Copper Orange off-roader features a matte-black roll bar with four lights lined along the top. The Amarok also features knobby tires and an interior cabin full of electronic gizmos.
Third is the Volkswagen Crossblue Plug-In Hybrid. Set for U.S. shores by 2016, this diesel hybrid is meant to move people in luxury. The modestly designed, mid-sized SUV is full of electronic gizmos. The center console is featured around a touch screen media center, and there are monitors in the backs of headrests. White leather accompanied by ash wood trim is garnished throughout the interior.
Last is the Audi RS7 Sportback. This steel grey super-saloon has a long hood and low roofline that help accentuate its distinctive styling. Other than the twin-turbo V8 power plant pushing out a staggering 560 horsepower, the RS7 gets styled fenders, a honeycomb grille and a few other stylized features that set it apart from its A7 and S7 variants.
After getting past the vehicles, visitors will see eight large TV screens lining the walls. Stationed at each one is a representative with an iPad linked to the TV. Visitors can, through some electronic wizardry, make it look as though they slung their arm around their favorite Olympic athlete and got a photo with them. They can send the photo to relatives at home.
Next is the booth’s dominant feature, Quattro Mountain. This feature is designed to show off Audi’s Quattro system and stands four stories tall. Visitors walk out of the showroom and are greeted by an Audi A4 waiting to take them to the peak of the mountain.
Riders are taken by a driver around a small track that leads to the base of the 45-degree incline. The driver then parks the car at the peak of the mountain before zooming down the 45-degree decline and coming to a stop at the foot of the mountain.
The driver then takes passengers on a small track that goes around a Red Audi RS6 Wagon parked on a pedestal. Riders are given a small USB drive that has in-car video of their reactions as they were being driven on the mountain.
After completing the mountain run, visitors are lead to the exit of the booth and can go see what the rest of Olympic Park has to entertain them.
BSU at the Games is a freelance news agency operated by 22 student journalists reporting from the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games through an immersive-learning program at Ball State University.